Conquering Fears – Halibut Style

I have a confession – I am scared of fish. Not happy alive fish swimming in a river or cute little fish in aquariums. No, I mean the fish at the store that is staring at you with those lifeless eyes or the big bags of frozen shrimp. The fish on ice, those are the fish that make me walk quickly through the supermarket (here on base, we call it the commissary) and wrinkle my nose at the smell. So, I ask you, do you think I would enjoy cooking fish? Fairly obviously, you probably can guess the answer is no.

I was not raised eating fish. We didn’t even have fish sticks, which probably don’t even have all that much fish in them. My mom doesn’t really like fish, though she is trying. But fish wasn’t in her cooking wheelhouse while we were growing up, which means it isn’t in mine. At all. I was just telling Ben that I don’t even know how to tell when a fish is cooked, much less how to cook one.

Ben likes fish. When he is flying on the road, he spends a lot of time in the Pacific. He is always telling me about the sushi he had here, the tuna sliders he had there, and all sorts of things that I can’t imagine eating, let alone trying to cook. When I told him about not knowing when a fish is cooked, he laughed. He said it didn’t matter too much since you can eat most fish raw so if it’s a little under, no big deal. What?!? If I had any hopes of raising the courage to attempt cooking some fish, there it went, swimming away with the thought of “who cares if it’s a little raw.”

But, and there’s always a but, fish is so good for you! We are supposed to eat fish something like 2 or 3 times a week! That’s a lot of fish. A lot. Sometimes it’s hard to do things that are good for us when we don’t want to do them. Depending on the task, it could appear impossible. These challenges can arise anywhere in our lives. For a lot of people, myself included, taking the time to work out is hard. It’s something we all should do, but we find other things to do instead or make excuses about why we don’t have the time. Our bodies can suffer because of our lack of discipline in this area.

Another common area that gets pushed into the back corner of our life is prayer and church. What better time to do some shopping than on Sunday morning when everyone else is a church, right? Maybe not so much. At least based on what God asks of us, to keep holy the Sabbath. It’s interesting, whenever I talk to someone about church and they aren’t presently going, they are quick to come up with reasons why they are not attending. It’s as if there is some part of them that is saying, “Yes you have all these reasons why not to go, but you should probably figure out a way anyway.”

This is the voice in my head when it comes to fish. So, begrudgingly, and while grumbling under my breath, I headed to a grocery store that Ben says has quality fresh fish. I went to one of my trusted recipe websites, Everything she makes is simple, a bit rustic, and I have been able to execute well. So, I found this recipe for fresh halibut: Technically, her recipe is for a piece of sea bass but she claimed that it would work with halibut too. I followed the directions and I’m pretty sure, though I guess there’s no way to know since Ben was gone at the time, if I actually cooked it all the way. And even if the fish wasn’t exactly perfect, smothering anything in a lemon butter sauce (I didn’t have shallots so I just left them out) has to be edible at least. The kids and I ate it – and I didn’t explode, implode or otherwise suffer injury. The kids didn’t either – John even asked for seconds! Crazy, if you ask me. Crazy good.

I’m excited to make this recipe again when Ben is home. I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence – I’m excited to cook fish. Me! The person who at the start admitted to being terrified of the thought. That’s how these things happen. We work up the courage to try something, even just once. We find a trusted guide, stay the course and relish the results. I can and should apply this lesson to other areas of my life – like getting proper exercise. I’m a work in progress, check back with me in a few months. Maybe others can glean some wisdom from my fish-scapades, maybe even gather the course to try church again, even just once.

The Weed-Wacker Teaches Me to be a Steward

The yard is Ben’s job. He’s the lawnmower guy, weed wacker expert, and general yard king. He was able to take our yard which was mainly weeds, rocks, and dirt – basically low on grass and high on skinned knees. He tore it up and loved it back to life. We have a great backyard now where our kids can play safely and our dog can run around, free to bark at any shadows that may threaten the realm (he is an 18 pound dog that believes he is capable of taking down a German Shepherd).

But, when Ben is gone, the yard falls to me. I’ll freely admit, and Ben knows this, I am not as attentive as he is to the yard. I always mean well when he is away. I promise to keep up with the watering. I swear that this time I really will mow more than once while he is gone for a long trip or deployment. This time, this time I will gather enough courage to use the weed wacker.

I don’t know what it is about the weed wacker that scares me. Probably the noise. It’s not a tool I spent any time with growing up. The yard was not on my list of chores. I can garden and weed by hand quite well. But hand me the power tool and I freeze up a bit. Ben has shown me how to use it and he is so patient with me. But I still avoid it.

How do I mow the lawn then, you may ask, if I am hesitant around a weed wacker? We have a push mower. No noise, no gasoline, no tugging or revving. You just push it from one place to another and the grass is mowed. Easy peasy. Why can’t they make weed wacker’s like that?

Ben was about about to come home, just a couple days away. After all my promises, you would think that the yard would be in great shape. Of course, it wasn’t. Actually, it was terrible. I should have taken a picture to show you just how bad it was. The weeds were high, to the point that when I tried to mow with the push mower they just would lay down and then pop back up. I knew that the only way to beat them back was with the weed wacker (and hind sight telling me that if I had actually kept my promises they never would have gotten out of hand in the first place.)

But I am a procrastinator. It’s one of my fault that I’ll own. I can find an excuse to get around anything I don’t want to do. Some people choose to do the unpleasant or difficult task first to get it done and out of the way when they are energized and motivated. More often than not (I am working on this and am getting better….slowly), i channel all that energy into many other productive things, convincing myself that these are just as important and should be taken care of first. Then, by the time all the other projects are done, I have no time, energy or opportunity to do what I really had to do.

And so there I was, just me and the weed wacker and a window of opportunity. Clare had just fallen asleep and since she usually only sleeps for 20-30 minutes during the day – she’s a terrible napper – I knew it was a small window.  I managed to convince John and Rosie to play in the backyard. I was so focused on those tall weeds that I actually did a lot of things out of order. I didn’t pick up after Max (another one of those neglected tasks since the kids had been playing mainly out front with some new neighbor friends). And crime above all, I didn’t actually mow before starting to use the weed wacker! I know, for all you lawn people, this is a rather ridiculous proposition. But like I said, I was so driven to conquer my task that logic was kind of on the back burner.

I got the weed wacker started. I even remembered which way all the stuff was going to shoot out and tried to stay going in the right direction. Of course, this couldn’t be simple and easy. Less than five minutes in a 5 inch length of wire shot out of the bottom – the weed wacker had reached the end of its cord. Excellent. If I was uncomfortable with a weed wacker to the point of avoiding it at most costs, I certainly had no idea how to change out the cord. I am almost thankful that I knew I had such a short window to get this task done. It meant I didn’t have time to stamp my feet and come up with reasons to not figure out this hiccup. Instead, I flipped it over and figured it out. Thankfully, my ever thoughtful and prepared husband had a new cord waiting in the yard closet.

The task did get done and what a wonderful feeling to look out over the yard and see that it wasn’t a forest of weeds anymore. I always have a feeling of accomplishment and pride when I manage to finish a task that I was not looking forward to doing, especially when it is something around the house.

So, you may be wondering why I’m telling you about my trials with the weed wacker. As I was wacking those weeds, I was thinking about my husband’s love of the yard. It made me think about how God charged Adam to cultivate, till and care for the earth. We were designed with the care of the earth in mind. I was somewhat ashamed at my lack of drive to take care of our yard. I know that God isn’t calling me to forsake my kids dinner so that I can individually pick each weed out of our lawn, there are priorities in our lives. But, maybe the yard – and by extension our home (cleaning is another cause for procrastination for me. I’m probably procrastinating cleaning something as I write this and am doing it again as you read it), should occupy more space in my priority list.

Everything given to us is a gift from God and we are supposed to take care of it. We are stewards, we are not owners. A steward manages the owners property or goods. She is accountable for how she uses them and is rewarded for a job well done. I have been given this beautiful family, a beautiful home with a fantastic backyard and a loving husband. I am responsible for helping each flourish and will be held accountable for how well I serve them. My reward is the smile on my kids faces when I was done with the weed wacker. They weren’t necessarily smiles because I had conquered the weed wacker (John had his hands over his ears the whole time because of the noise), but I’ll choose to think they were anyway.